The Mission is Greater than the Business: How to Tap the Power of the Gort Cloud–with Richard Seireeni

If your company doesn’t have the money (or inclination) for traditional marketing you can join the ranks of companies like Seventh Generation, Tesla Motors and Stonyfield Farm in the Gort Cloud. ‘The Gort Cloud’ is Richard Seireeni’s term for the invisible force powering today’s most visible green brands, as well as the title of his book, which profiles 25 leading green brands.

Many of the entrepreneurs I interview and read about talk about shrinking or doing away with their marketing budget to support their social initiatives–Stonyfield Farm chooses to spend more on organic ingredients, leaving them little for marketing. They, along with the other companies in the book, used the concept of the Gort Cloud to build their brand–primarily “because they didn’t have the budgets to do it any other way than by direct outreach to a sympathetic community” explains Richard.

I invited Richard, a veteran in brand development, to Cause Capitalism to talk about how social enterprises can use the Gort Cloud, and whether it’s even as powerful now as it was two years ago. We also talked about a terrific piece he wrote in the Huffington Post, “Drivers of Preference, Why consumers will Buy Green.

Click the player below to listen or right-click and save for the MP3.

Key takeaways

  • The Gort Cloud is analogous to a social network. It’s a “vast and largely invisible network of NGOs, trendspotters, advocacy groups, social networks, business alliances, certifying organizations, and other members of the green community that have the power to make or break new green brands.”
  • The concept of the Gort Cloud was a “bonus discovery.” Richard set out to write about how pioneering green companies built their brands and visibility. During this, he started to notice a common thread: most of them spent zero to near-zero money on marketing. If they weren’t paying for traditional media, what were they doing? He found that they were building their brand and getting support through person-to-person networking, both on- and off-line.
  • The green socially conscious community that makes up the Gort Cloud can provide great support, from technical assistance and capital, to customers and credibility. Companies should think about how to use the Gort Cloud as they develop their brand and marketing strategies.
  • The communal aim of the Gort Cloud is the increased sum production of sustainable and socially responsible products and services. Richard explains that people in the Gort Cloud are “fantastically driven to change the way business is done on this planet. Lots of people [are] collecting together to push this rock forward.”
  • During his research and outreach, Richard was amazed by the number of companies willing to talk with him about their trade secrets. He attributes this to their mission for sustainability and social good, which overshadows business concerns.
  • It’s critical to understand how the network (Gort Cloud) views your product. It takes legwork, but Richard suggests reaching out to editors and bloggers about your company’s values and services and attending conferences and trade shows. I would add you need to have an online presence and be a producer and a helper.
  • It’s important to get your company certified as applicable (LEED, B Corp, Green America, etc.). More on why others feel certification is important here.
  • The function of the Gort Cloud isn’t limited to businesses in the sustainability and social responsibility sectors. All industries can tap into some form of it.
  • Saving the planet or supporting fair trade is never the only driver of consumer choice. Richard talks about Seventh Generation and Method, both makers of green household cleaning products. Customers choose Seventh Generation because they’re green and their products are seen as safe. A different set of customers chooses Method because they are green and their products are esthetically pleasing. To differentiate itself, a green or socially responsible company can’t rely only on its social merits. It needs to market or develop a second driver of consumer preference.

You should say ‘Hi’ to Richard on Twitter at @Seireeni or take a look at his work with Brand Architect.

Richard explains where the term Gort Cloud came from: “The inspiration for that moniker lies in the Oort cloud, named after the astronomer Jan Hendrick Oort. The Gort cloud is a vast field of stellar debris that orbits the Solar System. We can only detect it electronically and view its effects, mostly in the form of the occasional comet it tosses back into our neighborhood. This seems to perfectly describe the gort cloud, a vast green network made up of untidy bits that is most easily detected through electronic means and that has a huge effect on the evolution of green business.”

Tags: , , , ,


  1. Do Good-ing Isn’t a Substitute for Marketing: 3 Low-buck Tactics to Get You On Your Way - May 21, 2010

    […] your community Richard Seireeni calls this the Gort Cloud–an abstract network of trendspotters, advocacy groups, business alliances, certifying […]